The University Programs Council hosts a plethora of events to enhance University student life, including movie screenings shown at Newcomb. From “A Star is Born” to “Green Book,” UPC has made it a priority to show a variety of movies to students free of charge to create nights of relaxation for all students.
In recent years, UPC’s Cinematheque committee has been working directly with studios and film distributors and licensors such as Swank Motion Pictures and Criterion Collection. With the help of these organizations, UPC has begun to show movies of many different genres, as well as showcase movies well ahead of when they typically get released as DVDs.
Jill Villany, fourth-year McIntire student and cinema director of UPC, revealed that Cinematheque’s budget is approximately $25,000. The licensing rights for each movie fall in the range of $800 and $1,100, dependent on the movie’s popularity and how recently it was released. Out of the 12 movies that UPC typically screens a semester, most have costed around $1,000. The leftover money is then dedicated to creating larger movie events — those involving food, performances, raffles or awarding prizes for UPC’s Oscar Ballot Competition.
The Cinematheque committee also works with a Universal Studios representative on Grounds. By collaborating with Universal, UPC has recently been able to implement advance screenings of recently produced movies to students for free.
“‘A Star is Born’ is kind of a crazy story,” Villany said. “One of the [representatives] reached out to my advisor and said, ‘We have one spot left for a college to show this — first person to respond gets it’… We were the last people to secure the spot.”
In the past year, the University Dining service has provided free popcorn for students at the screenings, creating more of a movie-going experience. The Cinematheque committee is also making efforts poll students on what movies they’d like to see in order to get more audience input.
To increase awareness of movie showings and provide a unique, fun weekend activity, UPC has begun working with other student organizations.
Hiu Hiu Sau, fourth-year College student and vice chair of UPC outreach, said this is done through co-sponsorships, such as when UPC invited Hot Kids Comedy — a student sketch comedy group — to perform before their screening of “A Simple Favor” in November 2018. On Feb. 2, UPC partnered with the Black Student Union for the screening of “The Hate U Give” and also held a sketch off before movie with The Whetherman, Amuse Bouche and Hot Kids Comedy.
“Movies [themselves] are a strong staple of programming, but when we get the opportunity to enrich that with co-sponsorships with other student groups, we are really branching out and improving the experience for everyone involved,” Sau said.
In addition to collaborating with other student groups, UPC marketing efforts have evolved considerably to reach more students on grounds. This has ranged from creating trailers, Instagram stories and Facebook events to promoting on HooView screens on Grounds.
Third-year Engineering student Nia Blibo acknowledged UPC’s efforts to show a variety of genres.
“There are some movies that are more popular than others, but they do their best to make sure they are accommodating as many students as possible,” Blibo said. “And I think they try to provide a wide array of movies to show, not just the same kind of genre. More like a plethora of stuff.”
Blibo has taken advantage of the advance screenings, a special incentive UPC has been able to provide only recently.
“I’ve only gone to a couple [screenings], but it was cool that they showed ‘A Star is Born’ before it came out in theaters and that you could go in for free,” Blibo said. “I was definitely going to pay the $15 to watch that on my birthday, but it was nice that I could go the day before and not have to pay.”
Looking forward, Villany hopes that people continue to gain interest in the movie screenings and take advantage of the advance screening opportunities.
“This year has been really great — we’ve over-doubled our attendance from last year,” Villany said. “That’s been really exciting for me, seeing the impact.”